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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2013

Month Degree Awarded

February

Keywords

perceptual narrowing, early experience, face perception, event-related potentials (ERPs)

Abstract

In infancy, the ability to tell the difference between two faces within a category (e.g., species, race) that is infrequently experienced declines from 6 to 9 months of age (Kelly et al., 2009, 2007; Pascalis et al., 2005; Pascalis, de Haan, & Nelson, 2002; Scott & Monesson, 2009). This decline in the ability to distinguish faces is known as "perceptual narrowing" and has recently been found to be absent when infants are given experience matching a face with an individual-level proper name between 6 to 9 months of age (Scott & Monesson, 2009). Additionally, individual-level experience between 6 and 9 months of age has led to neural changes at 9 months of age (Scott & Monesson, 2010). It is currently unclear whether brief, early experience between 6 and 9 months leads to sustained behavioral advantages and lasting neural changes. In order to answer these questions, the current study recruited and tested children who previously participated in a face training study when they were infants (Scott & Monesson, 2009, 2010). Findings revealed that individual-level experience with faces during the first year of life: 1) resulted in faster reaction time for faces outside of the trained category, and 2) led to more adult-like neural representations of faces outside of the trained category 3-4 years later. These results suggest that experience with individual-level learning in the first year of life is generalized to visually similar, but environmentally relevant face categories.

First Advisor

Lisa S Scott

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